A Gonzo Experience at Winter Sucks Fest

1am January 26, 2020; still unable to sleep, the anticipation for the upcoming event has it’s full embrace on me.

6:23am January 26, 2020; The Hateful Eight commences as I finally drift off to what I hope will be a restful slumber, but would prove to be a fruitless attempt.

1pm January 26, 2020; I’ve gathered what I need for my journey and start for Comedy @ The Carlson on foot, enjoying the chilled air of the afternoon and some Fudge Tunnel in my ears. 

2:17pm January 26, 2020; I arrive at last to my destination… United Artistry Live Presents: Winter Sucks

It should be noted that this is not my first time attending a United Artistry event. I’ve been to every one that has been put on, and I am personally very thankful for every artist and every band, every fan and every voice that goes to these events and makes them possible. Being that this was not my first time, I fully expected to be impressed, and my expectations were met. They were exceeded!

Let’s start with my entry. As I walk through the doors and hand over my ticket and license, I’m greeted with a very interesting sound that I’m not used to hearing at these events. An acoustic singer/songwriter called Cooper Scotti was killing his set which covered styles in the vein of indie and modern country. The set was accompanied by a drummer whose name I didn’t catch, and it was brought to my attention that this cat was only 10 years old! Already impressed by the knowledge the young man had of his instrument of choice, but then realizing he’s in middle school really ups the meter. 

Seeing these two wonderful performers do their thing made this particular United Artistry event stand out from the others in a big way right from the start. I was intrigued, impressed, and immediately elated! Once they took their first break, I took a walk around the wonderful vendors and had my breath taken away once again. Two of my favorite tables that I sniffed around at were Sister Vulture Design and Khaos by Design. The former had a veritable smorgasbord of prints and images, embroidered wall hangers, all of it drawing inspiration from all things creepy and strange. The latter was a table lush with unique jewelry and artwork made with various metals, bones and interesting objects. The best part about both? Everything is completely handmade and one of a kind! And they are local to Rochester!

After placing my newly accrued business card into my wallet I venture toward the other stage. What I’m faced with upon arrival is a young and fun rock ‘n’ roll band with a punk attitude covering “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” by Jet, and they put a swagger on it that hooked me instantly. I wanted more and they gave it to me by going into a very punk rock version of “Johnny B. Goode”. Element 36 was their name, and they kept surprising me with each song after that by switching members places multiple times. Everyone seemed to have a turn singing, and with each new singer came a new style. These talented musicians went through punk rock, to pop punk and post hardcore, and made their way sludge and a bit of metalcore. I have nothing but praise for these boys and hope to see them on more bills and see them develop their sound even more!

The next band that was presented to the fans was another young group, with the members all apparently in high school. The Old Souls Band, they were called. Old souls indeed! These classy cats are the bees knees, baby! Playing funky rock ‘n’ roll with a jazzy psychedelic twist, they absolutely crushed their cover of “Another Brick in the Wall”. About halfway through the set we were graced with one of the best alto sax solos I’ve ever witnessed live in my life. The bass player had incredible form and the licks he played were memorable to say the least. The drummer is one of the best young drummers I’ve seen, and it is clear that he not only has the knowledge of jazz, but it lives in his soul. And that guitarist, oh boy! Such passion, such pain, his face says it all when he’s bending those notes. Exemplary performance!

Next up to grace the stage was Into the Harbor, a local deathcore band that puts beatdown in the forefront. This was the first time I saw these guys, and after what I experienced I damn sure will be seeing them again! Their energetic stage presence and ferocious breakdowns made for a very mosh worthy set.

Soma Slumber was a name that I have been seeing quite a lot of, but I hadn’t even listened to them until I saw them at Winter Sucks. The reason being, is that I have this habit of not listening to a band that I haven’t heard of if I know I’m going to see them soon. I truly believe the best way to be introduced to a band is to see them live. And I am so glad I saw Soma Slumber live. This is a band that can beautifully and elegantly tie together both deathcore and groove metal flawlessly. Another intense and aggressive set; I’m pretty sure I actually watched the drummer break a stick halfway through their last song and played on all splinter-stick-like.

The next band is one of my personal favorites from Rochester currently. By fluidly slipping between sludge and doom metal, stoner rock and sprinkling in some grunge, MoodPill are quite possibly one of the most unique local bands that I’ve had the pleasure to watch live time and time again. And I will continue to watch them! When you see them you will not be able to stop yourself from boogying down and dancing the whole time. So many grooves, so little time!

Now, I don’t know about any of you, but I happen to rather enjoy hardcore music. Revival does an amazing job in bringing old school hardcore to the modern stage. High energy and razor sharp accuracy are what brought this band to the forefront of my favorites list when it comes to hardcore.

If hardcore and deathcore aren’t your cups tea, Cry to the Blind might be. This group will bring you back to when Chevelle and Breaking Benjamin were in their prime! These guys are dance worthy and bring quite the lively performance. 

Another favorite of mine, local thrashers Invictra gave a powerful performance. This marks the third time I’ve had the pleasure of watching their crushing intensity and it certainly will not be the last. With a brilliant take on a new wave of thrash metal, these talented boys will have you drinking cheap beer and wearing a smelly vest in no time at all! Hands down one of the best in their style to come out of Western New York in my opinion. Go see them!

One of my favorite things about United Artistry Live events is the mixed genres that they pull together. Already throughout the course of my being there I have watched acoustic acts, funky jazz, and some of the most brutal bands around. Then here comes Likewize, among my top three hip hop artists in Western New York, bottom line. This man is hard working, and committed to performing with every fiber of his being. I saw this man achieve a dream of opening the stage for horrorcore icons Insane Clown Posse, and I’ve witnessed him get the entire Bug Jar dancing and bouncing. With introspective lyrics that touch on socio-political topics, and fighting inner demons his music and performances have touched me in ways I’m not sure he realizes. Look this man up and support him!

Now we get to my main event; the Cream of the Crop, Perspectives! These boys are very special to me. With their message “Slash a Smile”, and their militant onslaught against negativity they won me over immediately the first time I saw them. These boys have a very unique blend of genres to them, cleanly  melding deathcore, metalcore and rap metal in a very abrasive package. In the words of Gerry Motions himself, 

“We like to take nu-metal, turn it upside down with the influence of the other genres (rap metal, metalcore, etc.) infused copacetically”.

The moment they arrive to the stage we’re presented with sinister imagery, and a looming frontman sporting a sign with the trademarked slogan “Slash a Smile”. The first song starts and the assault begins. Everyone is moving; the crowd, everyone on stage, the event staff. Breakdown after breakdown, slam after slam, bar after beautifully articulated bar. By the end of their performance you feel changed. You see life in different Perspectives. Their stance, support and understanding of mental illness, loss, grief and life’s negativity in general has helped me a lot personally. I sincerely hope that I see them on a lot more shows coming up, because more people need to hear their message and feel their presence. 

Ladies, gentlemen; alternatively, Theydies and gentlethems… This is just one of so many things that Rochester has to offer. United Artistry Live Presents: Winter Sucks was an immediate success and I’m so thankful I was able to be part of the crowd and among the witnesses. Keep in mind that the bands and artists covered here were not the only ones to play. These were just the ones I was personally able to witness for myself. These events always have what seems like dozens of amazing local bands and artists, all coming together for a fun time and a great cause. Make sure you go to the next one. I’ll say it one more time for the road, every single one of these talented folks were outstanding and brought an exemplary performance to the stage. You all should be incredibly proud of yourselves.

9:27pm January 26, 2020; Start my walk back home, ears ringing, feet hurting, soul… healed.

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